Why Diversity Is So Crucial for the Future of Our Media; as the Debate over Diversity in the Broadcasting Industry Continues, Marverine Cole, Sky News Presenter and Director of Birmingham-Based TV Production Company Funf Media Gives a Personal Take on the Discussion

The Birmingham Post (England), August 24, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Why Diversity Is So Crucial for the Future of Our Media; as the Debate over Diversity in the Broadcasting Industry Continues, Marverine Cole, Sky News Presenter and Director of Birmingham-Based TV Production Company Funf Media Gives a Personal Take on the Discussion


Byline: Marverine Cole

That old spectre has returned to the feast at the British TV industry's dinner table again - diversity and whether there's a fair representation of ethnic minorities professionals both in front of and behind the camera.

Recent comments by Pat Younge - the highest level black TV production exec in the BBC - reminded the industry not be complacent.

His views made the industry's magazine, Broadcast, and the Daily Mail.

Pat said the TV industry "is still disproportionately dominated by the white, middle and upper classes", that "there was not enough internal pressure' to change that picture and TV bosses should be "sacked if they fail to meet racial diversity targets".

I'm not sure about the sackings but it's clear that diversity in TV needs to be addressed.

I repeatedly get asked my views on it all, so when this article hit the news, my phone was ringing again. Why? I guess because people now think my perspective is a unique one: I'm one of only a handful of black newsreaders on national television - a freelance presenter (or to coin a US phrase, news anchor) for Sky News.

Five hours of live broadcasting, handling the breaking news of the Mumbai terror attacks, the Italian earthquake and other similar shocking international news events is par for the course in my sometimes terrifying, but also very fulfilling job.

I also run Funf Media, my own corpo-ratTV production company in Birmingham, with my business partner, Austen Duffy - where we're also developing several TV programme ideas for a range of UK broadcasters.

Some people confuse the term "diversity" with "positive discrimination" i.e. employing someone from an ethnic minority just to tick a monitoring box and fill a quota.

Positive discrimination is something I don't support and is something I'm very proud to say has not been a part of my journey as a journalist and businesswoman.

Every job I've ever landed has been on my own merits.

The toughest part of making headway in the media for me as a black woman was learning the right ways of approaching people for work to get that all important "foot in the door".

I have no story of a "life on the streets" or "in the ghetto". My story simply ain't that sexy, I'm afraid!

I was born and raised in Birmingham by hard-working Jamaican parents, Mum a nurse, Dad a builder.

I had a relatively middle-class upbringing, admiring Trevor McDonald and Moira Stewart on TV because quite simply they had the same skin colour as me and to my mind they were doing a very important job.

So dreaming of following in their footsteps, I set about finding out more about how to get into the media.

And so I started a 22-year-long slog that's finally paid off - one of working for little or no pay, and taking some calculated risks along the way.

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